Groundhogs can be a serious threat to a vegetable or flower garden. A groundhog can completely destroy an average garden in a matter of days by eating the roots and bulbs of the plants. The trouble with trying to eliminate groundhogs from your garden is that they are relatively large animals that are smart enough to get around most conventional deterrents. There are some ways you can protect your garden from the pesky animals without threatening the safety of your pets or children.
The groundhog is usually intent on reaching the parts of your garden that lie underground. To get rid of groundhogs in certain parts of your yard you need to install a fence that runs at least a foot or a foot and a half under the ground all the way around the perimeter of the area you want to protect. A tightly woven mesh fence that is about two feet above and below ground will keep the groundhog from digging into your garden from outside the fence and it will also keep the animal from climbing into the garden from above.
One of the most humane ways to get rid of a groundhog is to lay traps around your yard to catch them alive. Metal cage traps can be purchased from home improvement stores or agriculture supply stores. Put the trap in an area near your garden that doesn’t get much foot traffic. Place something inside the trap that will draw the groundhog in. Once the animal has gone into the trap, the door will close and latch. Traps can be used over and over again until you have caught all of the groundhogs in your yard. You can take the groundhogs to a local animal control agency or release them in undeveloped areas near your town.
Odor repellents for groundhogs are probably not the most effective manner of getting rid of a groundhog permanently. You can purchase chemical-based pellets that contain scents that are meant to keep the groundhog away from certain areas of your yard. The repellents will work for a week or two, but their effectiveness wears off quickly and they need to be replaced on a regular basis. Some groundhogs will develop a resistance to the odor and ignore the repellents after a few weeks, as well.
Gas fumigation around your garden is a very easy way to keep groundhogs away from the area. This method works best when you use it in the early spring while the groundhogs are nesting. Find the groundhog’s den, then deploy a carbon monoxide cartridge near the entrance. The gas will not allow the groundhogs to get out of their den through that entrance anymore, which means they will have to create another exit from the other end of their burrow. Usually fumigation causes the groundhogs to relocate their dens entirely, leaving your yard free of the pests permanently. Fumigation needs to be repeated annually as long as there are groundhogs in your yard.
If you live outside the city limits, you may be interested in using more lethal methods to rid your garden of groundhogs. Pellet guns are very effective at reducing the number of groundhogs in a given area, especially if you are diligent about shooting them whenever they become noticeable. You can also lay leg traps that will capture the groundhogs if stepped on. Both of these methods are very dangerous for other animals that may be in the area, though, and should be resorted to as an extreme answer to your problems. Check with local laws before you begin to use these methods.